A 10-year-old Florida girl raised nearly $10,000 to help rebuild her family’s home after a devastating fire — all by simply turning the lemons that life handed her into lemonade.
Alyssa De La Sala, a fourth-grader from Tampa, Florida, hosted a lemonade stand sale on Saturday to help her family raise the approximately $70,000 they immediately need to finish construction on their home.
Alyssa’s family’s home was destroyed in a fire in March 2013. The cause of the fire was never determined, but it began in the garage and swept through the home to the roof, damaging everything in its wake. The family has had to rebuild from scratch.
A contractor originally stated the reconstruction work would take six to eight months, but over two years later the family is still not in their home, according to Alyssa’s dad, Joe De La Sala.
Currently, Alyssa’s family is staying in an apartment while they await the completion of their home. But as of December 2014, the insurance payments for the apartment ran out, meaning the De La Salas are paying both their mortgage and rent for the apartment.
Earlier this year, the family received a foreclosure notice, because specialists like the roofer and drywall company had not been paid by the contractor, according to De La Sala.
“It started a roller coaster of money I had to come up with,” said Joe De La Sala, whose family also includes a wife, Jenn, and 13-year-old son, in addition to Alyssa. “We started scrambling for money.”
Alyssa came up with the idea to hold a lemonade stand to raise money and at first, De La Sala says he did not pay much attention.
“She says, ‘Daddy, I can have a lemonade stand,’ and I, as a dad, am like, ‘Sure honey you can have a lemonade stand,’” De La Sala recalled.
Alyssa took it upon herself to write a letter to “The Kane Show,” a radio show broadcast across the country, asking them to advertise her lemonade stand on the show. She also made a flyer and handed copies out at school and in her community.
“The Kane Show” spoke about Alyssa’s efforts on the air and soon her little lemonade stand exploded into a community event.
Alyssa’s lemonade stand, in front of the family’s half-built home, raised nearly $10,000 on Saturday, according to De La Sala.
De La Sala says he was particularly touched by a dad who had just lost his 13-year-old son to cancer and told him, “Life is short. Life is precious,” and made a $100 donation.
“He said, ‘For her to do this, you must be doing a good job,’” De La Sala recalled.
Another visitor to the lemonade stand was a 7-year-old boy who asked his mom to bring him after hearing about it on the radio. De La Sala says the boy brought Alyssa a blanket, a book and some toys.
Now the family, who also have a GoFundMe page, are focusing on responding to pledges from other contractors and specialists to help with construction and from a local restaurant that wants to allow Alyssa to hold another lemonade sale at their restaurant.
“It really was an emotional time,” De La Sala said.